Tuesday, November 24, 2009

PRTC to Install Video Surveillance on Transit Buses

Several bus fleets in Prince William County soon will be equipped with security cameras to cut down on passenger misconduct and promote public safety.

The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission is installing five cameras on each of the 25 busesin the Omnilink and Cross County Connector fleets, which serveManassas and Woodbridge, among other areas.

"We chose [to put cameras on] these buses in particular because we have a higher incidence of misconduct on local buses," said Christine Rodrigo, spokeswoman for the PRTC. She said commuters traveling to Washington were less likely to behave inappropriately.

Four cameras will be positioned inside each bus for various interior views, while one in the front of the bus will show the road. The wireless camera system will allow transit workers to monitor the vehicle remotely and in real time.

The advanced technology comes at no small cost: Each camera costs $1,380 -- and arming just one bus with fivecameras will run PRTC almost $7,000. The cameras were bought by a grant from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation that was matched with local funding.
Not all counties in the Washington area have been as lucky in securing funding for the surveillance cameras.

In neighboring Fairfax County, plans to equip theConnector bus fleethave been put on the back burner due to budget shortfalls. Meanwhile, in Montgomery County, camera installation is proving to be a slow process, although the county plans to install cameras on every bus. Older buses in the Ride On fleet cannot support camera technology, so Montgomery is putting cameras on buses as they are replaced.

About 60 of the county's 375 buses don't have security cameras. Metrobus and Prince George's County buses all have at least one security camera on board. Prince William County plans to have its cameras installed on all of the Omnibus and County Connector buses by the end of the week.

MARTA, CA Transit to Install Bus Cameras

Arsonist Caught on TTC Bus Cameras

A 28-year-old man has been arrested in connection to the arson of a TTC bus, which was caught on security video. The video was released to the public yesterday afternoon, and its clear, graphic images helped lead police to the suspect, said Const. Tony Vella.

Steven Edwards, 28, faces numerous assault, arson, and weapons charges. He was arrested by officers in 14 Division last night, on completely unrelated property offences.

Officers identified him from the images and video released through the TTC security camera. He was taken to 53 Division this morning, and charged for the bus arson.

The TTC bus erupted in fire early Wednesday morning after a man poured a large can of a combustible liquid on the back seats and lit them with a barbecue lighter.

Frantic passengers fled the scene, as the new $750,000 hybrid bus burst into flames at a stop outside The Bay store at Yonge and Bloor Sts., just after 2:30 a.m.

The entire act was caught on a surveillance camera at the front of the bus. The video shows the man pulling a large red can from his backpack. He pulls off the cap and pours the liquid all over the seats, shaking out every drop.

After he lights the fluid, the flames erupt so quickly he is almost caught in them. As smoke fills the bus, he grabs his backpack and jacket, goes to leave, then stops. He looks into his empty knapsack, then glances back, as though something was forgotten. A white object is seen on the floor behind him. Then he flees.

Before lighting the bus on fire, police say, the man punched a woman in the face for refusing to give him a cigarette at a bus stop. She suffered a bloody nose.

The woman did not know Edwards, police say.

When the victim and other passengers confronted him, the man got on the bus and set it on fire.

The suspect fled the scene and hopped in a Beck taxi at Gloucester St. and Yonge St.

Deanna Vexler was getting off the southbound bus on the other side of Yonge St., when a man charged past her, clutching his backpack, as three men chased after him.

Someone screamed: "Somebody catch him! He just set the bus on fire!"

People stood around the bus, watching it burn, Vexler said. Everyone had got off the bus safely.

Another person yelled, "Everyone get away from the bus!"

The crowd scurried around - scared the burning bus might explode, but unable to look away.

"I was shocked that it didn't explode," Vexler said, adding she was relieved no one was caught in it.

Firefighters quickly extinguished the fire and no injuries were reported. The bus, however, is a write-off, said TTC spokesman Brad Ross.

Every TTC bus (1727 in total) is equipped with four cameras. Images are downloaded when incidents of assault occur, said Danny Nicholson, a spokesperson for the TTC. The $17 million project to outfit buses and streetcars with cameras began in 2006.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Youtube Video Show Bart Police West Oakland Incident

Friday, November 20, 2009

Caught on Camera: Goats on a Bus

A bus in Vancouver, Washington got a couple of unexpected passengers on Wednesday.

A security camera shows a pair of baby pygmy goats waiting at a bus stop before climbing on board.

The goats were then quickly escorted off the bus by a passenger, but continued waiting at the stop until it drove away.

The goats had broken out of their pen and followed two passengers down the road to the bus stop.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

United Technologies to Purchase GE Security

United Technologies Corp. announced it has reached an agreement to purchase the GE Security business from GE (NYSE: GE) for $1.82 billion. The closing is pending regulatory approvals. “This acquisition enhances UTC Fire & Security’s status as a leading franchise in the $100 billion global fire safety and electronic security industry,” UTC President and Chief Executive Officer Louis Chênevert said. “It strengthens our North America footprint, extends our capabilities and complements our existing fire and security businesses.”
GE Security, Inc. is a wholly owned affiliate of the General Electric Company focused on communication and information technologies for security and life safety solutions. GE Security has 4,700 employees and operations in more than 26 countries.
“The Security business required significant investment in its capabilities to evolve and better serve the security industry,” said Charlene Begley, President & CEO, GE Enterprise Solutions, which includes GE Security.

Chicago Cameras Are Everywhere

Saturday, November 07, 2009

New York MTA Seeking to Improve Legislation for Bus Camera Enforcement

Bring on Big Brother.

An overwhelming majority of city residents say surveillance cameras should be used to crack down on drivers invading bus-only lanes, an exclusive Daily News-Marist poll reveals.

Experts say identifying and ticketing drivers who park or drive in bus lanes would be a powerful deterrent, and would enable the MTA to provide speedier trips for millions of riders.

The surveillance strategy, which wouls require approval by the state Legislature, was favored 65% to 35%.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Jay Walder and city Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said bus camera legislation will be their top goal when the Legislature goes back into session.

"We're going to make a push," Walder said.

Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign said The News-Marist poll puts lawmakers on notice where the public stands on the issue.

"Anyone who rides a bus knows how tremendously frustrating it is when some jerk parks their car in the bus lane to pick up their dry cleaning," Russianoff said. "It's one of those experiences very common for New Yorkers, as common for bus riders as it is for subway riders to get on a crowded subway car. It's an everyday occurrence. People are delayed and ticked off."

The telephone survey of 885 city residents was conducted this month by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

The Legislature has approved cameras for red-light enforcement, but has balked at approval for bus lanes.

Upstate Democratic Assemblyman David Gantt, head of the transportation committee, has blocked most camera enforcement bills.

Gantt, who also opposed a ban on texting while driving, has described the proliferation of cameras as an invasion of privacy. He didn't return a call for comment.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2009/10/25/2009-10-25_poll_use_cameras_to_free_up_bus_lane.html#ixzz0WBy4OQTg

More Stop Arm Cameras in NY - NYAPT Seeking to Change Enforcement Laws.

BETHLEHEM, N.Y. -- The results of a pilot program that used cameras on school buses to record how many drivers illegally passed stopped school buses were released on Thursday.

In the Bethlehem Central School District, a camera mounted on a single bus documented 20 illegal passes during a 40-day period that began in April.

"People don't pay attention, and that's part of the problem," says Peter Mannella of the New York Association for Pupil Transportation. "Despite the fact that we have all these fines and we've called attention to this, people continue to do it."

NYAPT installed cameras on buses in Bethlehem, as well as the Canandaigua City School District and the Brewster Central School District, which recorded 22 and 4 illegal passes, respectively. The project was supported by a grant from the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee and the National Highway Traffic Safety Committee. Organizers say the aim was to help combat the problem of illegal passing of school buses.

It's estimated that school buses are passed illegally 50,000 times everyday statewide, putting the safety of millions of children in jeopardy.

Albany County is considered the worst area in the state for illegal passes, outside of New York City. Police wrote 900 tickets between 2005 and 2008.

"People just don't get it," Mannella says. "We have a woman on film who literally said, 'I didn't hit anybody. I don't see what the big deal is.'"

The camera is similar to police cameras that are used to read license plates. It's mounted to the outside of the bus just above the driver's side window. As soon as the driver activates the flashing red stop lights, it activates the camera. If a driver tries to pass the bus either from the front or the rear, the camera records digital pictures onto a laptop mounted inside the bus. At the end of the day, officials can download that data to give to authorities.

"I thought it was an excellent idea," says Chuck Emery, who's been driving school buses for 19 years. He says on average, someone tries to illegally drive around his stopped school bus everyday as he's loading and unloading children.

"You see the last student getting on the bus," he says, "and people start creeping toward the bus and thinking it's safe to go now. It's not."

NYAPT says during the pilot program, no tickets were issued based on the school bus camera recordings. That's because current New York law prohibits police from issuing illegal passing tickets based on cameras. Instead, drivers are required to sign affidavits as to the make and model of car, license plate number, and driver description. NYAPT says it's working with lawmakers to change the law, and it hopes that all school buses one day will be outfitted with the camera equipment.

Section 1174 of the State's Vehicle and Traffic law requires all vehicles to stop for a school bus that is stopped and has its red flashing lights engaged. Violators face stiff penalties that include fines, driver's license points, and possible time in jail.

"When those red lights come on, stop!" said New York DMV Commissioner David Swarts. "Don't proceed. The cargo on that bus is very, very important to us."

Lake Charles Moving to More School Bus Camera Enforcement - 75% of $300 Fine Goes to Equipment Provider

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - "We've been fortunate that we have not had anyone killed," said Gary Anderson, Calcasieu Parish School Board Assistant Superintendent of Schools.

Like he's done before other cities around the parish, Anderson explains something has to be done before one of our students is killed from a driver running past a school bus.

"We're looking at over possibly 500 violations a day," said Anderson.

That estimate is based on a survey of the parishes 335 school bus drivers. But most violators, if not all, get away. That's why the school board has turned to private company Ongo. At no cost to the school board, Ongo will equip the bus stop arms with cameras.

"When that stop sign goes out the cameras become activated at that point. They can video it's a line of video of anybody entering that zone and leaving that zone," explained Anderson.

Once caught on camera Ongo would send the video clip to the Calcasieu Sheriff's Office for review. The sheriff's office has the final say on if a citation is issued. First offense costs 300 dollars and goes up to one thousand dollars for third offense. The school board would not collect any of the money. Ongo would get 75% of the fine, leaving the sheriff's office 25%.

"I still think this is too much for a private company to be getting compared to what the company is getting and what is staying locally," said Councilwoman Lurvertha August.

But like the school board, the sheriff's office says they are not in it for the revenue, but to get a handle on the problem and keep children safe.

"This is one issue that we have not been able to solve. We have tried so many things and the stakes or so high... We have to endorse this program," said Commander James McGee with the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office.

Once a ticket is issued CPSB Attorney Keith Prudhomme explains, "the registered owner has 30 days within which to satisfy the citation or appeal. The driver will also be able to review the video."

Satisfied the council approved allowing the sheriff's office to enforce the ordinance inside city limits. But before they can start writing tickets there will be a thirty day trial period with 9 cameras. Once rolled out: up to 25% of the buses will be armed with cameras.

"We will have the ability to move those buses, wherever there is a hot spot, wherever there is a need for it. In most cases high traffic areas," said Anderson.

The trial period won't start until the school board gets all of the parish municipalities to agree. Lake Charles becomes the fourth of six municipalities to support it. Officials say they expect Iowa and Westlake to back the ordinance in coming weeks as well. Once that happens it goes back before the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury.